Subscribe To Awards Blend: Where Are this Year's Best Actor Contenders? Updates
In a recent interview with the BBC, while promoting the UK release of his crime saga Black Mass, Johnny Depp told the media that he hopes he doesn’t win an Oscar anytime soon. Depp stated that the idea of delivering an awards speech doesn’t interest him. Nor does he like to think of himself as being in "competition" with any other actors.

With all due respect to Mr. Depp, he might not have much of a choice this year. His menacing performance as Boston enforcer James "Whitey" Bulger has him in the annual Oscar conversation, hovering near the top of a field that has yet to really produce powerful candidates. What a difference a year makes. Last season, at this early stage of the game, we had so many potential Best Actor candidates, we easily could have fielded two categories of worthy nominees. What it mean, at the end of the First Phase, was that several talented performances were left on the outside looking in, left without a nomination.

Skip to this year, and we’re still looking for the strongest five to stand up and be counted. There are two frontrunners in my mind: one based on the fact that some have seen the film (Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs; and one who many are starting to argue is "due" for a career that so far has gone unrecognized (Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant). After that, we have hopefuls who are just starting their campaigns. Matt Damon holds the screen for the duration of The Martian, providing enough sugar to help all that science go down. Depp, as mentioned, is a force to be reckoned with in Black Mass. On Friday, audiences will experience a throwback performance by Tom Hanks that has a nostalgic, Old Hollywood aura to it. Speaking of Old Hollywood, the Academy may warm to Bryan Cranston’s blacklist-drama Trumbo when it starts to open.

But without a clear-cut favorite – or a powerful field – Johnny Depp might want to hire a speech writer, at the very least, and recite a few practice verses in the mirror. Just to be safe.

Here’s where I think the Oscar contenders sit on October 13:
oscar winner prediction
The Frontrunners

Steve Jobs
The Contenders

Bridge Of Spies
Ex Machina
The Hateful Eight
Inside Out
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
The Dark Horses

Beasts of No Nation
The Big Short
Black Mass
By The Sea
The Danish Girl
The End Of The Tour
In The Heart of the Sea
Love & Mercy
Straight Outta Compton
The Longshots

The 33
45 Years
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Our Brand Is Crisis
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Walk
Several familiar faces are making a play for Best Director nods this season. Steven Spielberg has a real chance at Oscar recognition for his Cold War-era political thriller Bridge of Spies, a movie that will remind veteran Academy members of the films they grew up on, the ones starring Jimmy Stewart or Gregory Peck. In addition to Spielberg, previous winners such as Ridley Scott, Alejandro Inarritu, Danny Boyle and Quentin Tarantino are bringing headline-grabbing features to theaters in the final quarter of 2015. Who’ll prevail when the nominations are revealed?

oscar winner prediction
The Frontrunner

Danny Boyle, Steve Jobs
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
The Contenders

Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
David O. Russell, Joy
Ridley Scott, The Martian
Steven Spielberg, Bridge of Spies
Robert Zemeckis, The Walk
The Dark Horses

Ryan Coogler, Creed
Scott Cooper, Black Mass
John Crowley, Brooklyn
Cary Fukunaga, Beasts of No Nation
Alex Garland, Ex Machina
F. Gary Gray, Straight Outta Compton
Todd Haynes, Carol
Tom Hooper, The Danish Girl
Ron Howard, In the Heart of the Sea
Angelina Jolie, By The Sea
Peter Landesman, Concussion
Jay Roach, Trumbo
Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight
The Longshots

J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Peter Docter, Inside Out
David Gordon Green, Our Brand is Crisis
Adam McKay, The Big Short
Bill Pohlad, Love & Mercy
James Ponsoldt, The End of the Tour
Peter Sollett, Freeheld
Last season, Best Actor was a ridiculously competitive category, with just as many worthy candidates left on the outside of the category looking in as there was five eventual nominees. This year looks equally impressive, though there are a number of films yet to drop. Is this the year that Leonardo DiCaprio finally wins? Or could Matt Damon’s The Martian performance prove to be the spoiler?

oscar winner prediction
The Frontrunners

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
The Contenders

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Johnny Depp, Black Mass
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Tom Hanks, Bridge of Spies
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
The Dark Horses

Steve Carell, The Big Short
Bradley Cooper, Burnt
John Cusack, Love & Mercy
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, The Walk
O’Shea Jackson, Straight Outta Compton
Michael B. Jordan, Creed
Ian McKellen, Mr. Holmes
Brad Pitt, By The Sea
Edgar Ramirez, Joy
Will Smith, Concussion
The Longshots

Antonio Banderas, The 33
Michael Caine, Youth
Richard Gere, Time Out Of Mind
Jake Gyllenhaal, Southpaw
Tom Hardy, Legend
Chris Hemsworth, In The Heart of the Sea
There have been a few interesting developments in the Best Actress race, which we’ll continue to track. Cate Blanchett may end up competing against herself (we call that "Pulling a Soderbergh") if her performances in Carol and Truth continue to get recognition. And buzz has reached a deafening level for Brie Larson in Room, allowing me to move her into the Frontrunner category. (We gave the movie a perfect 5-star grade.) As for the rest of the category? Take a look.

oscar winner prediction
The Frontrunner

Brie Larson, Room
The Contenders

Cate Blanchett, Carol
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
The Dark Horses

Emily Blunt, Sicario
Sandra Bullock, Our Brand is Crisis
Marion Cotillard, Macbeth
Angelina Jolie, By The Sea
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Julianne Moore, Freeheld
Maggie Smith, The Lady in the Van
Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road
The Longshots

Cate Blanchett, Truth
Blythe Danner, I’ll See You In My Dreams
Helen Mirren, Woman in Gold
Carey Mulligan, Far From The Madding Crowd
Carey Mulligan, Suffragette
Amy Schumer, Trainwreck
Sarah Silverman, I Smile Back
Lily Tomlin, Grandma
Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies goes wide this week following its premiere at the NYFF, and early buzz continues to swarm around character actor Mark Rylance, whose portrayal of a captured Soviet steals scenes throughout Spielberg’s sturdy Cold War drama. Expect to hear his name often as this category continues to develop.
oscar winner prediction
The Frontrunners

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
The Contenders

Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
Michael Keaton, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Seth Rogen, Steve Jobs
Liev Schreiber, Spotlight
Jason Segel, The End of the Tour
Jacob Tremblay, Room
The Dark Horses

Christian Bale, The Big Short
Jim Broadbent, Brooklyn
Albert Brooks, Concussion
Bradley Cooper, Joy
Tom Courtenay, 45 Years
Robert De Niro, Joy
Benicio Del Toro, Sicario
Bruce Dern, The Hateful Eight
Joel Edgerton, Black Mass
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
Ryan Gosling, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Oscar Isaac, Ex Machina
Samuel L. Jackson, The Hateful Eight
Jason Mitchell, Straight Outta Compton
Brad Pitt, The Big Short
Kurt Russell, The Hateful Eight
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
Michael Sheen, Far From the Madding Crowd
Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Billy Bob Thornton, Our Brand is Crisis
The Longshots

John Goodman, Trumbo
Harvey Keitel, Youth
Sir Ben Kingsley, The Walk
Robert Redford, Truth
Will the real Danish Girl, please stand up? Most going in to Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl likely expected to be blown away by Eddie Redmaye’s transformation. (And he is in top form, for sure.) But chatter continues to swirl around the devastating performance by Redmayne’s co-star, Alicia Vikander, who is having an incredible year – and one that, I believe, will be topped off by her first Oscar nomination. Who will join her? Let’s discuss.

oscar winner prediction
The Frontrunner

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Rooney Mara, Carol
The Contenders

Elizabeth Banks, Love & Mercy
Jane Fonda, Youth
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Kate Winslet, Jobs
The Dark Horses

Joan Allen, Room
Melanie Laurent, By The Sea
Melissa Leo, The Big Short
Helen Mirren, Trumbo
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Concussion
Ellen Page, Freeheld
Marisa Tomei, The Big Short
Julie Walters, Brooklyn
Katharine Waterston, Steve Jobs
The Longshots

Jessica Chastain, The Martian
Dakota Johnson, Black Mass
Diane Ladd, Joy
Julianne Nicholson, Black Mass
Tilda Swinton, Trainwreck

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